Christmas Day, 9:00 AM. 9 degrees F, wind W, calm. The humidity is 85% and the barometer stands at 30.45 in. Lake smoke is rising high into the atmosphere, rendering the eastern horizon and more a completely gray overcast, which blends imperceptibly into a bluer and bluer sky to the west. A few lazy snowflakes are falling upon the chickadees that sit in the lilac bush by the porch, waiting their turn at the busy feeder. It is a very quiet Christmas morning, and a neighbor walking her dog has been the only traffic on Old Military Road.
Buddy was a very naughty dog on Christmas Eve, and would get a lump of coal in his stocking, if I had one. About nine o’clock I took him out and he hightailed it for parts unknown, and didn’t return until midnight. Of course I drove all over town looking for him but that was totally useless, since he can be gone several miles in five minutes. I knew something was on his mind, such as he has, and it was probably frozen garbage, which he has been trying to sneak into the house for the past day or two. I will let you use your imagination as to what kind of icy detritus it might be. Anyway, he had a choice hunk of frozen junk in his jaws when he finally returned… thinking, I suppose, that it was a fine Christmas present for Joan and me. And, he smelled bad. I have no idea why a sane person would wish to keep a hunting breed dog in the house. They are incorrigible in their bad habits. On the other hand they are the sweetest of pets, even when they don’t smell that way.
We watched the West Point Christmas program last night on TV, and it reminded me again of Christmas Eve, 1776, when George Washington ferried his ragtag 2,400 man army across the ice swollen Potomac River and then force-marched them in the black of night to Trenton, where they surprised the Hessian force early on Christmas morning, and produced the first real American victory of the Revolution.
There have been more Christmases than not in the past century that American troops have been fighting or on guard against the forces of evil throughout the world, and they do so still today. Freedom was not free on Christmas Eve in 1776, and it is not free now. And neither is Christmas.